Review: Volkswagen Touran

Well-made and easy to drive, solid MPV

05 Jul 16 Tim Barnes-Clay

Pros

  • Comfortable

  • Spacious

  • Safe

Cons

  • Some diesels lack power

  • Pricey VED tax

  • Body roll

Our expert rating

In 2003 Volkswagen introduced the Touran. It’s a compact multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) manufactured in Germany and was originally created to fill a gap in Volkswagen’s vehicle line-up.

Now a decade further into the future, it’s proven to be highly popular amongst customers and as a result it’s one of the most popular small MPVs on the market.

Performance

The Volkswagen Touran comes with a choice of two petrol engines and four diesels, but unless you have a very low annual mileage it’s best to forget about the petrol engines and look at the diesel options.

The 1.6-litre diesel units are very efficient –returning around 60mpg – but are rather lacking in power to the point that they may leave you struggling to pull off overtaking manoeuvres.

Unfortunately the 1.6-litre diesel didn’t quite sneak into one of the cheaper road tax brackets, as its CO2 emissions were not low enough. As a result it will cost at least £110 a year in road tax.

The more powerful 2.0-litre engine will pull better and will still return a solid 54mpg, though road tax will be slightly higher at £130 a year. Efficiency minded ‘Bluemotion’ models are only available with a manual gearbox. The smooth automatic DSG gearbox can be found on some 2.0-litre diesel models and on the more powerful 1.4-litre petrol.

Volkswagen Touran engine

Ride and handling

If you had to describe the Touran’s ride and handling with just two words, it would be comfortable and easy. At lower speeds the steering loosens up making it very simple to move around in more contained environments like a supermarket car park or city streets. However, at higher speeds it becomes much heavier.

The steering may not have much feel, but it does at least always make life easier for the driver. On a twisty road, you’ll find there’s rather a lot of body roll in the corners but that’s normal for a MPV. The softer suspension really helps keep occupants comfortable and it easily soaks up the bumps in our aging road surfaces.

It may not provide much in the way of driving enjoyment, but the Touran is a happy and collected car on the road, and that’s really all it needs to be in this sector.

Volkswagen Touran interior

Interior space

The cabin is quiet and feels well built. As it’s an MPV, there is also a ton of space available, with lots of room for legs and heads. Even the second-row seats can be adjusted, allowing for a little reclining if the third row isn’t being used.

The large windows also help the Touran feel bright and roomy. It also scored a perfect five stars during Euro NCAP crash testing, so should the worst happen, occupants are as well protected as they can be.

Boot space with all three rows of seating is just 121 litres, so to have a useable load space you have to fold the third row down, and doing this will increase potential space to 695 litres.

In this configuration there’s plenty of room for the kids’ equipment, but for truly huge loads you can also fold down - or remove entirely – the second row of seats, too, boosting space to 1,913 litres.

Look for an ‘SE’ model for the best balance of value and equipment levels, as they came with parking sensors, extra cubby spaces, and USB connectivity. All models are well equipped, but higher-end ‘Sport’ models don’t represent good value.

Volkswagen Touran boot

What to know before you buy

The Touran suffered three recalls, but all were straightforward issues that were easily fixed. Recall work carried out will be documented in the vehicle history, and easily checked.

Aside from this buyers should have no real need to worry about the long term reliability of the Touran, but the DSG automatic gearbox can sometimes be jumpy in first gear and reverse, so make sure they pull away smoothly on the road test.

Some of the well-specified Tourans are just too expensive when compared alongside its rivals.

Volkswagen Touran outside

Alternative cars

This sector in the car market is on the decline as buyers look towards the blossoming SUV segment, due to many of the cars in this sector coming with seven seat practicality.

However, the Citroën C4 Picasso has unbeatable style, superb economy, and a very comfortable ride, as well as the crucial abundance of space. It makes the Touran look dull and uninspiring.

The Vauxhall Zafira also manages to defeat the Touran on style, but not on the quality of the driving experience. In terms of the drive, the Ford Grand C-Max is the best in the sector, but isn’t as spacious as other cars in this class.

Volkswagen Touran and Citroen C4 Picasso alternative

Overall verdict

While the Volkswagen Touran may be the blandest car in its class, it represents possibly the most solid choice in the sector. Unfortunately, some models are simply too expensive and its most efficient engines are not quite powerful enough.

That said, it’s spacious, well made, and easy to drive - and that is why it’s been a success with buyers.

Expert rating

Performance

Reliability

Space & comfort

Running costs

Value for money

Overall